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INTRODUCTORY ESSAYS ON EGILS SAGA AND NJALS SAGA Edited by JOHN HINES AND DESMOND SLAY VIKING SOCIETY FOR NORTHERN RESEARCH LONDON All contributions copyright the authors. ISBN 0 903521 25 3 Printed at Oxford University Computing Services, 1992 Foreword In the earlier 1980s, the Viking Society for Northern Research extended its involvement in promoting the university study of Old Norse literature and related topics by launching a series of annual Student Conferences at which lecturers and students could gather for talks and seminars that were able to range beyond what could normally be catered for in a university timetable in terms both of scope and of variety. In the course of time, a perception has grown that some of the material presented at these meetings not only merits more than a fleeting public appearance but could also help to redress a shortage of helpful, introductory critical reading in English on central texts in the study of Old Norse. The Viking Society accepted a proposal to publish, in an inexpensive and informal form, papers from the Student Conferences held in Cardiff in 1988 and London in 1990, which had concentrated on Egils saga Skalla-Grimssonar and Brennu- Nijals saga respectively. One of these papers, Rory McTurk's, has already been published in Saga-Book XXIII(1) (1990), 28-45. Gudrin Nordal's essay on the historical circumstances in which these sagas emerged was specially written for this volume. To compensate in part for the sporadic appearance of references and scholarly foototing in this book — material that is not at home in the text of a clear and direct lecture — bibliographical guides to published work on each of these sagas have been provided at the end. Thanks are due to the Viking Society, for its support for this volume, and to the contributors for their co- operation in the task of reproducing their talks in printed form. Particular thanks are due to Peter Robinson, at the Oxford University Computing Services, for his efforts in converting the contributors’ various computer disks to a common format. John Hines, March 1992